Thursday, December 24, 2009

Endangered Species: The Successful Corporation?







Get this:

The natural average lifespan of a company could be 2 or 3 centuries or more, but there are only a few examples of that (Sumitomo is one). Shockingly, however, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company is only 45 years, and ONE-THIRD of the Fortune 500 companies in 1970 had vanished by 1983! Those are our largest companies, which are thought to be the most stable ones.


Just in this past decade, look at the ten largest companies which went bankrupt, causing their shareholders to lose absolutely incredible amounts of money: Enron, Worldcom, GM, Chrysler, Pacific Gas & Electric, Conseco, Washington Mutual (the largest S&L), Thornburg Mortgage (a large mortgage REIT), CIT Group (a large business lender), Lehman Bros (a 158-year-old investment bank). Then, consider that there are hundreds more companies of smaller size, which failed. Talk about lost jobs and lost investments!
Companies are managed in such a way that they tend to fail rather quickly. It seems odd to me that a corporation, which is granted PERPETUAL existence and is supported by dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of dedicated, talented people who are committed to its success, nevertheless has a significantly shorter lifespan than we frail humans.

Of course, the case may be made that the primary cause of company failure is poor management at the top. If upper management, on average, performs so poorly and causes companies to fail, why are CEO's receiving $100million bonuses and salaries that are 300x the lowest-paid workers? I'm just asking.






Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just for the Halibut


Gentle Readers,


I am YET ANOTHER resource in your food-wine pairing dilemmas. A customer asks:


"I am serving pan seared halibut with a cranberry tomato chutney and chipotle peppers. What kind of wine would you serve with this dish?"


Accessing the incredible potency of the World's Library, I respond:

In researching this, I find answers all over the map.

The most obvious answer is: Sauvignon blanc, and probably the crisper, more minerally style that one finds in France or the US, as opposed to the fruitier, softer style of New Zealand.

But you could also do a Grenache (or Garnacha, in Spain); it would match the robustness of the chutney and peppers. It could push past the delicacy of the fish a bit, however. It's risky but I love the concept for its boldness. I think I would not serve just the Grenache with this dish, however.

If you're feeling daring, you could pour both an SB and a Grenache, and let your guests each find their own balance. That would be fun.

If the topping is spicy and hot enough, you could pour a Gewurztraminer.

One writer suggests a nice dry French rose. I can see that.

Or, you could do a White Burgundy (or good Oregon Chardonnay); I think you could go with either a Fume blanc (aged in a charred barrel, which might match the Chipotle well) or an unoaked one with lots of structure.

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2005 Mount Eden (Santa Cruz Mountains) Estate Cab



Mount Eden builds their Cabernet sauvignons for longevity. The old vines sit atop a mountain, at 2000', where only a thin layer of topsoil overlies a mountain's worth of slate. The wine is tannic and shut down now, but it should age into a real beauty.


93 points from Wine Enthusiast: "Rich in black currants, mocha, and cedar. The score could rise considerably, after 2011." Parker: "Dense, ruby-hued cab boasts a sweet nose of incense, toast, charcoal, and red and black fruits. Elegant, with a first-class Bordeaux-like structure."


K&L Wines is selling this gem for $55. They are a great retail shop in the Bay Area; ordinarily, their prices are very good. But my local Portland distributor put this wine on special (because everybody's inventories are too large now), and thus I can sell this wine for just $32. Given California's more-favorable wine laws and taxes, this is a real coup. But Matt Kramer (Oregonian's wine critic) recently praised the wine, so it will probably disappear quickly.
Just remember to let this one sleep. There is no comparison between what it is now, and what it will become, given time. Think of it as a geologically-slow butterfly, metamorphosing in a glass cocoon . . .